In my talk I will concentrate on the experiential perspective of the pandemic, as reflected in my own experience as well as that of my family, students and other acquaintances – namely “Small stories”. From these small stories I will continue into the realm of “Big stories” in reference to several aspects of our experience as a collective at this time.
My first small story or significant experience re Corona relates to ageism, namely the issue of my age (I am 80) and the numerous outcomes, real and imagined, thereof. My second personal connection with the disease has been via “Death Café”, a project I am deeply involved in for several years. Age and death awareness were thus my first individual windows to the multi-faceted phenomenon of the pandemic.
In the more general spheres, I have met three big stories which impacted my personal life as well as the lives of many others: Trust versus mistrust (of the authorities or experts) and resulting from this – compliance versus disobedience and the question of individual freedom; Practices of social distance, family contacts, solidarity and loneliness and their psychological significance; and the technological jump required for survival or wellbeing.
In the last part of my talk I will discuss two dilemmas which we will all face, and may be conceived as the end points of our stories: when the crisis is over, will we change? Human flexibility has proved to be immense, yet the attraction of former habits and routines, and their economical foundations, cannot be ignored. Finally, what will remain after the trauma: stress disorder or personal growth?